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Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, Evening Edition. July 9, 1943. p. 1
SANTA CRUZANS TESTIFY AT WATSONVILLE JAP HEARINGS
Wednesday and Thursday at the Watsonville city hall many Santa Cruz county leaders and citizens testified concerning the problem of whether or not to let Japanese come back to the coast after the war.
According to reports from the Apple City, sentiment was heavily in favor of legislation baring Japanese return. The hearing was one of many being conducted in California by the state senate interim committee and both Senator H. Ray Judah, Santa Cruz, and Assemblyman Jacob M. Leonard, Hollister, spoke.
Twelve witnesses were heard by the committee, headed by Senator Hugh Donnelly of Turlock. Besides the chairman, there were Senators J.C. Dorsey of Bakersfield, former Watsonville resident, and Irwin T. Quinn of Eureka. Senators George Hatfield and Herbert Slater other members of the interim committee on Japanese resettlement were not present at both sessions.
Judah told the committee:
"In talking with people of my country in all walks of life I have found that the great majority do not want the Japanese back here either during the war or after the war. . .I differ with those few who think they can bring the Japanese back and 'make them over.'"
Assemblyman Leonard of Hollister, who represents Santa Cruz and San Benito counties, and who introduced a resolution in the assembly which set up a similar interim committee on the Japanese problems, told the visiting senators that San Benito county residents also are opposed to the return of Japanese. He said there were about 1000 Japanese out of a total of 12,000 residents in his county before the evacuation last year.
Taking issue with the legislators, Rev. Allan W. Geddes, rector of Watsonville All Saints Episcopal church, expressed his belief that Japanese should be allowed to return to the coast after the war when "the hysteria of an aroused public dies down." He declared however, that it would "be unwise to allow Japanese to return to the coastal area or other strict defense sections during the war "because of the danger of race riots."
Rev. Mack McCray Jr., pastor of the Watsonville Baptist church backed the stand taken by Rev. Geddes.
Another speaker from Santa Cruz was veteran Attorney John H. Leonard who declared he had been told by a 20-year-old Japanese youth after Pearl Harbor that he "was proud to be a Japanese." The attorney asked him what he would do if drafted by the United States for arm duty and sent to fight the Japanese. The youth replied, Leonard said: "I suppose I would have to go but I'd shoot high!" The veteran attorney also testified that he had encountered numerous instances of Japanese repudiating their contracts.
Testimony taken at Watsonville will be incorporated with that taken elsewhere and will be turned over to the legislature in attempt to influence legislation on the Japanese problem.
The committee met in Salinas Friday for Monterey county hearings. Senator Judah was not able to attend the Thursday hearing as he had to leave for San Francisco.
Copyrighted by the Santa Cruz Sentinel-News, Evening Edition. Reproduced by permission.